University students turn out to vote early on Election Day

At least 9,000 students registered to vote before Oct. 27, the highest number among colleges and universities nationwide.

Voters fill out ballots at First Congressional Church in the Marcy Holmes neighborhood on the morning of Nov. 8, 2016.

Image by Maddy Fox

Voters fill out ballots at First Congressional Church in the Marcy Holmes neighborhood on the morning of Nov. 8, 2016.

by Nick Wicker and Hannah Weikel

With students trickling into polling places, Election Day voting is in full-swing at the University of Minnesota.

Many stopped by community centers, churches and other voting spots to cast ballots for the first time early Tuesday. Students were encouraged to participate in the days leading up to the election, as well as the day of, by various campus leaders, including student government and University President Eric Kaler.

At least 9,000 students registered to vote before Oct. 27, more than all other university campuses in the U.S by that time.

Though Minnesota is a traditionally blue state, there was still some division between voters on campus — even those who came to the polls together.

Friends Ellie Barrett, 19, and journalism senior Rachel Lutchen both voted in their first presidential election at Van Cleve Park in Southeast Como.

Barrett said she voted for Donald Trump while Lutchen cast her ballot for Hillary Clinton.

“I agree with a lot of the issues that she stands for such as the environment, education … immigration, women’s rights,” Lutchen said.

Still, her friend’s vote of confidence in Clinton wasn’t enough to convince Barrett.

“I don’t think the Clinton’s should get back in the White House because Hillary lies,” she said.

In an email to students and faculty Monday, Kaler stressed the importance of voting in local elections like those for state representatives and Supreme Court justices. All 201 seats in the state Legislature are up for election

“We in Minnesota are known for our high voter turnout and I’m sure this year will be no different,” he said in the email.

Not every polling place was civil.

Brittany Tedford, a journalism and Gender, Women and Sexuality Studies senior, said she was at Andover Elementary School and was delayed nearly an hour when Trump supporters began hurling insults at Clinton supporters in line. The dispute arose because a man attempted to enter into the polling place wearing a Trump T-shirt and was turned away.

In a Tuesday morning email, the Minnesota Student Association urged the student body to vote and detailed the steps necessary for same-day voting registration.

Last week, the Office of Undergrad Education and the Office for Student Affairs emailed students a reminder that the University will not excuse class absences on Election Day.

Instead, students had to work around class schedules to reach polling places.

First-year student and first-time voter Michael Schaefer, said he supports the Democratic Party because he aligns with all of its views, like many others in Minneapolis.

Biochemistry first-year Eric Schmid said he didn’t have to skip his Tuesday art class because the professor cancelled it for voting.

Material Science sophomore Nathan Marks said while Sen. Clinton wasn’t his first choice, he ultimately wanted a Democratic president and Senate so “things can get done.”

Still, some students voted for third party candidates. Over the lunch hour, students cast ballots for Libertarian Nominee Gary Johnson, Green Party Nominee Jill Stein and even Performance Artist Vermin Supreme.

Engineering first-year Toivo Radloff said he voted for Vermin Supreme because the competition between major party candidates is a “rat race.”